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Friday, April 13, 2012

"Sarah's Key" - Book Review

Chelsea Ho & Connie Hong

Sarah’s Key is a novel by Tatiana de Rosnay. This book tells two stories at the same time; one takes place in 1942 and the other in 2002. In the 1942 story, the main character is a ten-year-old girl, Sarah Starzynski. She is a Jewish girl born in Paris. In the 2002 story, the main character is an American woman, Julia Jarmond. Julia is a journalist. She is married to a French man and lives in Paris with her husband’s family and her daughter.

Image courtesy St. Martin's Press; http://us.macmillan.com/SMP.aspx

In 1942, the French police raided the Starzynski’s apartment, arresting Sarah and her parents. When the police came to their house, Sarah locked her four-year-old brother in a secret closet in her room, so he wasn’t captured. Sarah and her parents were transported to Drancy internment camp. In 2002, Julia wrote an article about the Vel’d Hiv Roundup, the time when Sarah’s family was taken away. While she was looking for information about the Vel’d Hiv Roundup, Julia discovered that Sarah was still alive. When she learned more about Sarah’s story, she discovered that her husband’s family was connected to Sarah’s family; this connection caused trouble for her relationship with her husband and his family.

The author describes the story by going back and forth between two times. When Julia was writing her article, Sarah’s story came up. At the end of the book, there was a very moving scene that I will never forget.  When Sarah’s son met Julia, he asked Julia what her youngest daughter’s name was; Julia said, “Sarah.”

A few days ago, I saw in the news that some young Taiwanese men had attacked a migrant worker from Thailand. It seemed to me the Taiwanese young men were like the Nazis in Sarah’s Key, and the Thai worker was like the Jews. Because racial discrimination was in the young Taiwanese men’s minds, they thought that it was OK to bully a foreigner worker. We learned from Sarah’s Key that we should treat everyone equally, no matter who they are.

We enjoyed this book and want to recommend it to everyone. When you read Sarah’s Key, you will like it.

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